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San Bruno Officials Suspect PUC Judge Under Pressure To Go Easy On PG&E

Publication Date: 
December 01, 2013
San Jose Mercury News
George Avalos

Stanford Law Professor Michael Asimow comments on the possible implications of rumored discussions between the California Public Utilities Commission and California judges in The San Jose Mercury News. 

Officials with this city say the California Public Utilities Commission is stonewalling them by refusing to hand over documents that the city suspects will show improper conduct at the PUC concerning deliberations over the fine it will assess PG&E for the deadly 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno.

City officials are seeking emails circulated among PUC Executive Director Paul Clanon and two administrative law judges, Mark Wetzell and Amy Yip-Kikugawa, who are preparing a proposed ruling on the fine. San Bruno wants to find out if Clanon pressured the judges to go easy on PG&E, which faces potential fines totaling $4 billion.


Michael Asimow, a professor at Stanford Law School and an expert in administrative law, said certain communications between the PUC's executive director and the administrative law judges would be improper during their deliberations.

"If there were substantive discussions on the matter, that could be improper," he said.